Dereham Otters hosted their Iceni Open Gala over the first weekend in October. Great Yarmouth Swimming Club have not competed in this gala previously, but this year, 20 swimmers from the club took part, with many hoping to gain important qualification times for the Norfolk County Championships that will be held in January 2018. Others were making the most of a last opportunity to qualify for the forthcoming Winter Regional Championships, with this gala being the last one before the application deadline. It was a friendly, but competitive gala, with a strong team from the host club, a large team from Norwich Swans, and swimmers from St Felix, West Norfolk, Thetford, Mildenhall and North Norfolk Vikings also competing.
The swimmers had to work extra hard to gain medals, as only the top 3 swimmers in each age group were awarded. They were worth the effort however, having been specially minted using a design based on an Iceni coin that was unearthed in the local Dereham area.
Great Yarmouth Swimmers performed consistently well throughout the weekend, with a high percentage of personal best times being achieved across all the age groups, which was pleasing for Head Coach Liam Harvey, and Coach Rhianna James.
The two outstanding swimmers of the gala, however, were Ryan Webb (15) and Tommy Chandler (15), who provided spectators with race after race of close finishes, pushing each other hard, and often coming away with the gold and silver between them. Tommy demonstrated that he is coming back into excellent form, particularly in his breaststroke, where he convincingly took gold in 50m and 100m, winning the final heat against other older swimmers. He also took gold in 50m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 200m IM along with silver in 50m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle. Ryan has been going from strength to strength recently, improving every time he swims. Not only did he take gold in 50m butterfly, 100m backstroke and 50m freestyle, all in personal best times, but he broke the 1 minute barrier for the 100m freestyle, winning gold in 59.82 in one of the most impressive swim of the gala. He also took silver in 50m backstroke and 200m freestyle.
Other notable swims in the gala included Anna Duffield (15), who gave it everything in the 200m IM, taking gold and a regional qualification time in the process. She also took gold in the 100m butterfly and silver in 50m freestyle and 50m backstroke. Skye Nichols (9) once again showed she is one to watch for the future coming away with an impressive 2 golds in 200m backstroke and 50m backstroke a silver in 50m butterfly and bronze in 50m freestyle. Jasmine Coleman showed her talent for butterfly taking a convincing gold in 100m butterfly in a time that was 20 seconds faster than the county qualifying time for her age, along with a silver in the 50m butterfly. Anna Pearce had another excellent gala, showing consistency and stamina across with weekend, with 3 bronze medals: 200m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 200m breaststroke along with a number of 4th places, narrowly missing out on more medals. Ben Bedford also swam strongly. He took gold in the grueling 200m butterfly and bronze in 200m breaststroke.
A number of GYSC swimmers gained top 6 places, with 3 of them: Jacob Zandbergen, Zoe Land and Melissa Duffield, just missing out on a medal by being squeezed into 4th: Of the other swimmers that competed, every single one achieved at least one new personal best time, with many showing significant improvements. They were Bethany Gordon, Lucy Gordon, Francesca Brown, Alyssa Greenall, Jack Tate, Oliver Grimmer, Diogo Wiseman, Nathan Pitman and Charlie Shearing. Congratulations to all the swimmers that took part, and thanks to the coaching team and volunteers for giving their time in running the gala.
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